Original Post Date: Thursday, July 22, 2010

Recently the Director of the Office of Management & Budget (OMB), Peter Orszag issued a directive that was posted on the OMB blog that outlined three specific actions for IT reform. The actions include a freeze on all new IT modernization task orders for financial systems, reviews of current high risk IT projects and require agencies to submit improvement plans to the CIO; thirdly, the OMB Deputy Director will develop recommendations within 120 days to improve the federal government’s overall IT procurement and management practices. Orszag states:

“While a productivity boom has transformed private sector performance over the past two decades, the federal government has almost entirely missed this transformation and now lags far behind on efficiency and service quality.  We are wasting billions of dollars a year, and more importantly are missing out on the huge productively improvements other sectors have benefited from.

Quite simply, we can’t significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the federal government without fixing IT.”

My experience is that government IT project managers are very competent people and they want to deliver on time, on budget results.  However, as confirmed by this survey, 78% of government IT project managers feel that they are not equipped with the people, processes and tools to determine accurate project estimates and to conduct effective program affordability management.  The root cause of late, over budget IT projects are inaccurate, over-optimistic project estimates.  I and others at my company have worked hard to change this, and to ensure that government IT project management are educated about project estimating software but little has changed over the past ten years.  Fundamental change will only result from greater leadership focus on estimating accuracy throughout OMB and agency program management.